Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Walk, Pedal, Ride: Sustainability Week

The Office of Sustainability hosted the Active Transportation Fair to teach students and faculty more about bicycling and public transportation options on campus and in the Chicago region.  Exhibitors included the Active Transportation Alliance, the Commuter Student Resource Center, Rapid Transit Cycleshop, ZipCar, I-Go, CTA, Mayor Daley’s Bike Ambassadors, and the Office of Sustainability.

At the Active Transportation Fair, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) brought along bike maps and CTA bus and El maps to give out to students. They also brought along a bike carrier that is connected to the front of CTA buses to teach riders how to put their bicycles on the bus when they are traveling.

For all of those who weren't aware, including myself, the CTA has a strong green initiative throughout the entire corporation. By just existing, they replace the equivalent of over 400,000 cars on the Chicago roads each day. They now own over 200 hybrid buses, reducing emissions and contributing to the Climate Action Plan. By using public transit, individuals greatly reduce our carbon footprints too. Check out how much with the Carbon Saving Calculator!

There is more- the CTA is bicycle friendly, providing bicycle parking at every El location and allowing bicycles on buses during operating hours and on the El trains all hours except 7am-9am and 4pm-6pm. The CTA also works closely with I-Go, providing parking spaces for shared cars, collaborating to provide the Chicago Card Plus/I-Go Card that users can purchase to access car-sharing time and CTA rides.

The CTA headquarters received it's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in 2007, and also received the Energy Star label from 2005-2009. CTA stops use florescent lighting, provide recycling bins, and have two green roofs (one ontop of the CTA headquarters and one on the Clifton Red Line stop). Realizing how much the CTA cares about the environment, it will make me think twice about complaining the next time I wait 10 minutes for the train!

After the Active Transportation Fair, coincidentally, I spotted an I-GO car in the parking lot of Pete's Fresh Market in Pilsen! Still, car sharing is also a new idea to me.From the Zipcar Website, I learned that a shared car takes about 20 cars off the road and members save an estimated $500 a month in comparison to car ownership. You can become a member online and reserve your car within seconds! Once you become a member and reserve a car you just walk up to it and hold your zipcard up to the window and it unlocks! The more I read into this the more I am wanting to try it! With an annual fee of $60 and hourly and daily costs around $7 and $70, it definitely would be cheaper than paying $200.00 a month for my car payment.

The Bicycling Ambassadors are the bicycle-safety and public outreach team of Chicago. At their booth they had many pamphlets of tips and better yet, two ambassadors were present to give their knowledgeable advice. I learned that I can take up the entire lane when trying to be courteous of drivers going passed when I am riding down that tight, rocky side line on Taylor between Morgan and Halsted to the gym in the morning- that is a relief!

Oddly enough, this week is Commuter Appreciation Week through the Commuter Student Resource Center. As I was checking out their Website, they provide CTA alerts and even the weather! At the Active Transportation Fair, they solicited the center and promoted their assistance to help students on their commute.

A fun and educational end to Sustainability Week 2010!

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